End of the semester

There comes a time at the end of every year where students everywhere struggle in front of computers for 48 hour sleepless sessions. Some write papers, some study for exams but possibly the students who have it the worst are those art based students. Whether studio art, animation, graphic design or even recording arts for these students exam time is D-day. If you know someone who is in any of these majors you should buy them a case of energy drinks and don’t expect to see them till the end of the semester.

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The wretched desk of an animation student

        The wretched desk of an
   animation student

If you are a student in any of these majors you will need supplies to survive this terrible time of year. Here is a list of what you need in your end if the semester survival pack.
1. A case of Redbulls (or other energy drink) to trick you into thinking you don’t need sleep.
2. Granola bars for quick nutrition.
3. A small pillow and blanket for micro naps in front of your computer.
4. A playlist of your favorite motivational work music to keep you going long after your brain has stopped actually functioning.
5. Headphones so you don’t have the urge to kill the guy at the computer next to you because you can’t stand the way he breathes.
5. Finally a person who will infinitely listen to you complain and remind you that the end is just around the corner.

There you have it. If you have these things you’ll be able to make it through this retched time of year. Good luck to you all and remember that once its almost over and you can sleep when you’re dead.

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Podcast notes- iAnimate Larry Vasquez Interviews Ted Ty

 

  • iAnimate Podcast
  • Guest- Ted Ty current Dreamworks animator and previous employee of Disney Feature.
  • Topic- The plethora of knowledge that Ted Ty has acquired through year of experience, and his advice to student animators.
  1. How Ted Ty got into animation and how he made the jump from 2D to CG animation with no prior CG knowledge.
  2. Ted Ty’s workflow or approach- Ted claims that he rarely draws thumbnails like he does for 2D when working in CG animation, because he says in 3D it has to look good from all sides so thumbnails do not help him in that medium.
  3. Reference- Ted Ty claims that reference is a good thing to have. It allows an animator to learn about movement and study it by studying reference students are able to understand movement and the emotion behind it. Ted also compared using reference to the art of figure drawing in that the artist must take the time to look past what they think they see to begin to see what it really there. “Anything that you can use to improve your work. I’m going to use it!”
  4. Ted’s Advice to students- “The key to success is pretending that you don’t feel certain things.” He then explained that sometimes even though you love animation it gets hard, it challenges you and there comes a time when you feel like giving up. It takes devotion, passion and being “hungry for it” to get you through.
  5. Ted says that few people are naturals at animation, and he is not one of them. He works hard to get the work he is proud of but even then he says its not enough. Ted’s greatest piece of advice was that in animation you have to be willing to constantly get better because if you don’t then you won’t make it in the field that is constantly progressing.
  6. Ted has worked on many films and says that his favorite 2D film he has worked on was “Lilo and Stitch”. Because of the freedom and how comfortable he felt with his team he claims that period of time was “living the dream”.

http://www.ianimate.net/podcasts/item/interview-with-animator-ted-ty.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Persistence of Vision”

Poster for the documentary.

Poster for the documentary “Persistence of Vision” by Kevin Schreck.

On March 18 students at MTSU were given the opportunity to view a breathtaking documentary titled “Persistence of Vision” by Kevin Schreck. The documentary’s subject is the animator Richard Williams and the story of his unfinished masterpiece “The Theif and the Cobbler”, which had the potential to be one of the greatest animated films of all time. The film began production in 1964 and was lost by Richard Williams to Warner Bros. in 1991 due to Williams’s failure to meet the deadline. It was then re-done, butchered and released by Warner Bros. Studios in 1993.

One of the films Antagonists. Ironically the film's true Antagonist could arguably be its creator.

Zigzag, one of the films antagonists. Ironically the film’s true Antagonist could arguably be its creator.

 “Persistence of Vision” entertains, informs and envelops its audience in the tragic story of an artist and his unfinished work, coupled with scenes (both finished and pencil tests) from the movie that awe the audience with their intricacy and beauty. The film offers a behind the scenes viewing of the making of this masterpiece that has never before been so easily accessible. The documentary itself offers such a visually appealing experience that it nearly replicates what viewing the complete “The Thief and the Cobbler” could have been like at time, but in many ways more intimate because the viewer sees the process, struggles  and story behind the art.

“The Chase Scene” and example of the films spectacular illusionist animation.

Richard Williams began working on his would-be masterpiece in 1964 with his own personal studio behind him. Richard was known for being meticulous and a perfectionist. Many animators refused to work for him. Williams would have animators constantly reanimate scenes after hours of work until his exact vision was replicated even down to the smallest details. For 20 years Williams worked on his film by self producing with profits from work the studio would do for outside companies, mostly commercials. The studio was losing money and Williams was becoming unsure how he would continue to fund his work until its completion.

Richard Williams knew his art inside and worked meticulously and thoroughly.

Richard Williams knew his art inside and worked meticulously and thoroughly.

 Finally in 1988 the film ” Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, for which Richard Williams was director of animation, was released and was received extremely well. The film blended live-action film with 2-d animation in a way it had never been done before. Upon the films success Richard Williams and his project caught the eye of Warner Bros. Studios. Warner Bros. offered Williams a deal in 1988 stating that they would fund his film if he could complete it by 1991, however if the film was not complete by then Warner Bros. would seize the rights to the film and offer its completion to another animation studio. In 1991 the film was near completion, but not close enough to meet the requirements of the contract Williams had entered with the studio. In 1992 Warner Bros. seized the footage and rights to the film and gave the film to Fred Calvert who added new animation (not up to Williams standard), re dubbed the film and added musical numbers. The butchered film was released in the U.K. under the title “The Princess and the Cobbler” in 1993, also later released in the U.S. as “Arabian Knight” in 1995. Neither version was well received.

The main character Tac originally had no lines in the film.

The main character Tac originally had no lines in the film.

Original Tac concept page

Original Tac concept page

The second main character the Thief (also originally unvoiced) as he wanders through the inside of a large war machine.

The second main character the Thief (also originally unvoiced) as he wanders through the inside of a large war machine.

“Persistence of Vision” contains a plethora of pencil test, concept art, and even unused complete original animation that is all breathtaking and allows the audience to witness some of the beauty that would have been in a finished version by Richard Williams. The animation in the original film is full of illusions of three dimensions in pencil and paint. The interaction between the characters and the backgrounds creates fantastical illusions sometimes even used for humor, which doesn’t take away from how impressive these tricks are. In the documentary you are able to see the amazing camera angles and movements that Williams was able to achieve because of the medium of animation. Richard Williams took the medium of animation to a whole new level and demonstrated its nearly limitless potential.

Schreck was also able to compile enough interviews with actual co-workers and friends of Williams to paint the most accurate picture possible of what actually occurred behind the scenes. Thanks to Kevin Schreck audiences around the world have been able to connect with this story and become inspired. Even though Williams was not able to finish this work of art what he did create was still awe inspiring and his true story has a beauty in it all its own that Schreck was able to bring to life in his documentary.

“The War Machine” a complete scene from the original film. The clip was released by the studio to show their progress. The release of this clip by Williams caused great anticipation for the film.

Sadly due to copyright on some of the footage used in the documentary it can only be seen at film festivals and private screenings and can not be released to DVD. This story is one that needs to be spread and the footage featured in the documentary is something all animators, film lovers and audiences in general should experience. The documentary is currently touring around the world and tour dates can be found on the Facebook page of the film https://www.facebook.com/PersistenceOfVisionOfficialDocumentaryPage , and if you find you have an opportunity to view it know that it is an adventure that you do not want to miss.

                                                   Trailer for “Persistence of Vision”

“Game of Thrones”- Live Blog Report

32 min in- Jon Snow has shown true bravery in admitting what he had to do while he was on the other side of the wall. By doing this he has gained trust but will his warning be enough to stop the Wildling attack on the wall?

25 min in- Who knew that even relationships of incest still have their struggles?

20 min in- Do you think the young Lady Stark can recover from the loss of her mother and brother? She feels abandoned, but will she let Tyrian help her as he husband?

14 min in- The dragons have grown a lot since we’ve last seen them. The Mother of Dragons may be a true threat to the throne, if she can keep her dragons tamed.

11 min in- This new prince is no joke. He can definitely back up his words with his actions.

6 min in- The Royal Wedding is approaching and we get to see some of the guests? How will it compare to the last wedding?

1 min in- How well will Jamie be able to wield his sword with one hand? Let’s hope we don’t have to wait to find out!

start of show- Let the games begin!

5 minutes before show- How high do you think the estimated body count should be for episode 1? I say at least 3 major character deaths!

10 minutes before show- This live blog will cover the premiere of “Game of Thrones” season 4. Adapted from George R.R. Martin’s book, “A Song of Ice and Fire”.

Digital Reality

Summary: Discussing the advancements in digital imaging, projection mapping, and the affects it could have on our society both positive and negative.

Digital imaging technology has rapidly progressed since its beginnings in the ’80s and ’90s. Digital animators have been given the tools necessary to bridge the gap between imagination and reality, and soon it may not be possible to tell the difference.

The “Uncanny Valley” is the idea that human representation evokes certain human reactions depending on how life-like it is. When something is very unrealistic but still resembles human life we are ok with it. As the rendering of human life gets closer and closer to reality, it becomes unsettling for us to view. On the other side of the valley, there is a point where the representation of real life and real life itself are non-differentiable and we accept it as real.

A graph of the "Uncanny Valley"

A graph of the “Uncanny Valley”

Our technology has almost reached a point where information that is rendered in real time will look nearly identical to real life. Usually digital images used for TV shows, commercials and movies are pre- rendered. That means that the information used to make the image is processed and developed into very high-quality images: the longer the render time the higher quality the image.

However, in video games, this method isn’t possible because information is sent to the game system as a player makes decisions. The reactions in game must be instantaneous. This is rendering in real time. Though there remain some small signs if an image is manufactured, the fact that it is rendered in real time leads one to believe that pre-rendered footage would be even more capable of replicating real human life.

Activision is a leading game company, who is breaking down walls with their real time renders.

Activision is a leading game company, who is breaking down walls with their real time renders.

In addition to the ability to manufacture images that look real, 3-D technology has also recently given us projection mapping. This is the process in which computer-generated imagery is projected onto 3-D planes in real life, creating the illusion that they are something they are not.

         One of the best examples of projection mapping is the live performance piece “Box” 

If this technology is coupled with our ability to replicate the image of human life; then within the next decade it will be possible to create a whole new imaginary world all around us that appears to be as real as the one we are in now. This will blur the lines between reality and the fiction of games and movies. By allowing artists to use these tools their creations become limited only by their imaginations.

But we must ask ourselves, is it safe? Is it safe to allow our minds to be flawlessly tricked by an illusion? Is it safe to give someone a way to bend what one would perceive as reality? There are precautions that must be taken and questions that must be asked before this technology becomes widely available, and it may be necessary to slow our own progress for our own safety.